Comets Near Earth

October 22, 2014 6:04 PM

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Comets Near Earth

Can comets hit Earth? As a scientist who helped launch vehicles into Space, I wondered the answer to this question too. Recently the comet named Siding Spring nearly collided with our neighboring planet Mars. To give a rough estimate of its close proximity, it was 1/3 the distance of the Earth to the Moon. NASA scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory stated that the comet came close to the Mars observation equipment -- Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) - but fortunately missed it. Had the comet been any closer, the rock-dust-gas debris, flying at 126,000 miles per hour at 87,000 miles above Mars' surface, could have destroyed the equipment like a bomb. But can a similar event happen on earth?

The answer to the initial question is, "Yes." But don't worry. History shows the answer. Although meteorites, asteroids and comets are all flying rocks, comets and asteroids pose different types of threats due to their trajectory patterns. To differentiate, meteorites are interplanetary debris that ...

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